6 Tips on Writing a Clear Statement of Work in Web Development

If you have to do large projects in web development and design, you probably know what a statement of work is and how important it is to ensure your success. Who knew something as simple as writing down project goals could help identify appropriate resources? A good SOW prevents unpleasant situations from happening due to miscommunication and establishes a foundation of clarity and should answer the following: what the purpose is, what the goals are, what the requirements are.

statement of work

Often, customers are not really clear about what they need. They have a general plan, but this is difficult to describe. Everybody needs the most amazing website, but what does that mean, especially for the specific client? That’s not an easy question and most of the time, the answer is subjective. That is why in these types of projects, it’s necessary to have a thorough statement of work and make sure that both parties are on the same page and there is an agreement on overall purpose and expectations.

1. Make Clear the Overall Purpose
Think about the reason your customer need a website. Ask him about how he plans to grow his business. On one side, this background information helps you to come in with new and original ideas to deliver a unique and customized product. On the other hand, this shared purpose becomes a good tool to leverage and indicates that your work is more personable and valuable to your client.

2. Define Each Part of the Project
Some businesses need a specific functionality for their website. That means sometimes you might need to do extra work in order to create charts, graphs etc. It is important to define and identify from the start each part of this work process because it may require other kinds of specialists, changing the quote amount.


3. Evaluate Your Extra Costs
If you’re working on a large project which needs to be completed in a short time, you probably need more than one developer. You might also need more coders and designers. It is not the customer who will think about all these details. To avoid losses, any resource you use should be included in your SOW and initial quote.

4. Think About the Time You Need for Every Phase
This is often the most difficult part. And you have to be honest. Carelessly filling a timetable is another reason why many companies are losing money. It’s also very useful to have different tools to monitor permanently not only how much time it takes for a task, but also how much time is lost in extra tasks. For instance, you might discover that solving the issues noted in feedback may take longer than the entire website development. Always consider and take a good evaluation on the time you spend on testing, revisions, and feedback, and factor this in.


5. Consider Payments for Every Successfully Completed Task
After dealing with the timetable, both parts are probably aware of the fact the project will not happen overnight. If you have already defined each major part of the project, you should also have a payment timeline associated with it. There are a variety of ways to do this: you can simply ask for a 100% payment upfront, a percentage upfront, staged milestone payments, a payment on the due date or combine these possibilities, according to the type of project.

Full payment upfront is a good solution for a short project, but complex projects may need another format. This prevents customer leverage or abuse and resources wasted on billing and accounting. Depending on how big the project, you may also ask for a percentage of the payment upfront, from 25%-50% and for the rest, break up the fee and schedule based on deliverables. If there is a mid-sized project, it’s also a good idea to ask a payment upfront + a payment on due date. By contrast, ongoing services such as hosting and or maintenance should be differentiated because they are in the most cases due monthly or annually. If you want to know more about how others charge their clients, take a look here. Whatever you choose, you need to make it very clear in your SOW.


6. Make a List of Business Requirements
Every customer has in mind some business requirements for his site. This is the part where it’s important to pay attention and make sure there is no ambiguity; every requirement should be clearly laid out and very specific. Before you start, ask for every piece of information relative to the success of the project. It might be useful to take notes from the client on his pain points and how this project should solve his business problems.


Creating a great website is a complex process that involves a lot of resources and implies advanced management of time. To make a perfect agreement with your customers, you need to define very clearly every important aspect in the process. Following these six tips above doesn’t guarantee a problem-free project, but it’s the first step in the right direction. Writing a clear SOW should help you to find the common language with your clients and avoid most, if not all, issues that could arise.